Today, September 23, we commemorate the Conception of St. John the Baptist. St. John is the only figure in the New Testament besides Christ whose conception and nativity are related in detail. This indicates the importance of St. John in the the work of salvation in the world. He is the true "friend of the bridegoom."
A point concerning this commemoration is that a new, unique and unrepeatable human person began to exist precisely at the moment of his conception. Human life - the psychosomatic unity of soul and body - is a continuum that starts at conception and continues through the grave into the Kingdom of God.
The scriptures reveal that life begins at conception when it tells us that the unborn John "leaped for joy" in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when the Theotokos visited her six months into her childbearing (Luke 1:39-45). St. John's destiny and vocation were chosen by God prior to his conception and started when he was conceived. He needed the time and nurturing to grow into that destiny and vocation.
Tragically, today we "choose" abortion. Abortion appears to be an efficient solution to avoid the demands and responsibilities that confront a potential father and mother who face an "unwanted" pregnancy. We employ the fallible logic that declares if something is legal it becomes a right.
Yet a higher law declares that life is sacred. The Church witnesses to this truth to a world that has lost its moral and ethical bearings about this most basic fact of life. Every child ever conceived is a child of God with a purpose and destiny decreed for him by God.
The celebration of the Conception of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord (September 3); the Conception of the Theotokos (December 9); and the Incarnation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (March 25), remind us about the sanctity of life. They declare that life is from God and compell us to stand firm against the culture of death.
Fr. Steven C. Kostoff is pastor of Christ the Savior/Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Norwood, Ohio.